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‘Shakespeare’ to take stage

Stoppard to write play adaptation

Disney Theatrical Prods. is partnering with Sonia Friedman Prods. to produce a stage-play version of “Shakespeare in Love,” to be written by Tom Stoppard, who co-penned the original screenplay.

Jack O’Brien, the “Hairspray” helmer who also has directed Broadway outings of Stoppard plays “The Coast of Utopia” and “The Invention of Love,” will direct “Shakespeare,” with “Utopia” and “Invention” designer Bob Crowley also onboard. Deals aren’t set yet, but plans point to a production that launches in London.

“Shakespeare in Love” would come to the stage with a high level of audience recognition. The 1998 Miramax pic written by Marc Norman and Stoppard and helmed by John Madden picked up seven Oscars including best picture and screenplay, as well as thesping laurels for Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench.

The idea of a stage version of “Shakespeare” has been kicking around for years. Initially conceived as a tuner, project had been one of the prospects on the table for the theatrical arm of the Weinstein Co., led by the former toppers of Miramax. Disney Theatrical, linked to the property via Disney’s prior ownership of Miramax, had taken over a leadership role on the project by early 2010 after a couple of complicated rounds of horse trading over underlying rights and progress-to-production deadlines.

While Disney Theatrical is known for tuners including “The Lion King” and “Mary Poppins,” the “Shakespeare” play is intended to have the lush period-piece feel of 1979’s Mozart bio-play “Amadeus,” according to a source involved in the project.

Another nontuner to which Disney is attached, Peter Pan prequel “Peter and the Starcatcher,” is gearing up for a spring run on the Rialto with Disney as a co-producer. The org’s new tuner version of 1992 pic “Newsies” could also land on the Main Stem in the coming months.

“Shakespeare” joins a list of developing projects at Disney Theatrical that also includes legit incarnations of “Alice in Wonderland,” “Freaky Friday” and “Dumbo.” Friedman’s consistent trans-Atlantic producing activities include “The Mountaintop,” which opened Oct. 13 on the Rialto, as well as recent plays “La Bete” and “Jerusalem.” All three of those shows landed on Broadway following West End runs.

Disney Theatrical wouldn’t comment on plans for the show. No timeline has yet been set.

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